Monday, September 7, 2015

A Question of Artistic Style

Since moving to Sedona, I'm searching for my new style in terms of the
red rock landscape, which is different than my previous landscapes of
southern Arizona and New Mexico.
Image here: Dylan and Dexter Chillin' at Bell Rock, Acrylic on Canvas,
16 x 48 inches, Copyright 2014 Mary Gravelle
Commissioned work. Prints are available.
Is it important to have a distinctive style as an artist? Can an artist experiment over time, changing their style and still appear as a serious and professional artist? Or is the style of an artist inherent in their hand? Are they born with a particular style? Read on to find out more about this fascinating subject.

Discovering Artistic Style

Clara Lieu, Visual Artist and Adjunct Professor at RISD has this to say in her article, How do You Find Your Own Individual Style.
"The process of finding your style is very slow, and you need to develop serious skills in patience.  Allow your style to naturally evolve.  Attempts to force a style on yourself will end up looking contrived and dishonest."
She goes on to say that once an artist has discovered their style, it's okay to keep experimenting and reinventing your artistic style. She sites Picasso and how we went from Cubism to many different styles. She also makes Matisse an example because he went from painting in oils to cutting out paper.

My Sedona landscape style might be emerging with this 2nd
Sedona landscape painting.
Pilgrimage, 12 x 12 inches, Acrylic on Canvas.
Copyright 2015 Mary Gravelle. Original is available.
Contact me with serious inquiries:

What is Artistic Style

That begged the question, what is artistic style anyway? I was thinking that artistic style is the visual cue to the viewer that a certain artist had created it. The final artwork has a certain quality about it that defines it as an individual artistic style. But what does that mean exactly? Here is what Alyson Stanfield says:
"Your style is a combination of the mediums, technique, and subject matter you choose. It’s not just that you make contemporary quilts or that you paint landscapes. Those are genres. It’s that extra little thing you do to distinguish your work from that of other artists... For a painter it might be loose brushstrokes, impasto, or a repeated image. Alexander Calder added primary colors + black to organic shapes for his kinetic sculptures. Cindy Sherman transforms her own image in each photograph she prints. What are you known for?" –What is Artistic Style
Ms. Stanfield tells us that the artist must work hard to discover their style. And that's what I was thinking, too. I think the artist simply shows up to the work at hand and does the work. The work will progress. The artist will progress. A style will emerge eventually. She wrote an article on how to go about finding your artistic style, 7 Steps to Finding Your Style, which might be helpful.

One style I adore utilizes acrylic mediums, mixed-media,
layering, putting on, and sanding off, a very multi-
layered approach to painting.
New Day, 12 x 12 inches, Mixed-Media on Wood,
Copyright 2015 Mary Gravelle. Original is available.
Serious inquiries contact me at
Prints are also available.

Artistic Vision

Thaneeya McArdle's idea of style is one I like:
"It is very important that beginning artists focus on developing their own style, and find their own unique way of expression. An artist's personal style usually progresses as the artist gains more confidence through experience, expands their database of knowledge, and acquires more skill with the materials... While it is perfectly okay to work in a variety of styles, it is generally best to focus on the ones(s) you like best, in order to fully develop your artistic potential within that style. Dabbling with different styles is a great way to experiment, but to really flourish as an artist, you need to focus on a style or two that you feel really allows you to express your inner vision." –Explore Art Styles
Soft chalky pastel was my
first medium. My style had to do
with bold color, curved lines, and
organic shapes.
That last statement about finding the style that allows you to "express your inner vision," is one that sticks in my mind. So, then, the question becomes, what is your inner vision that wants to be expressed? What style or styles can best express that vision? Experiment with different styles and land on the one that can carry you throughout your art career without becoming boring. Remaining open to the creative process will allow fresh new approaches to create growth in your work over time while remaining true to your artistic vision and expression. Your style supports your vision; it gives unique expression to your inner artistic vision. Vision, then, becomes the guiding light leading you to your personal artistic style.

Well, I Just Don't Know

All of this sounds great. I still need to research and investigate this topic further to settle it in my own artistic mind. I don't know if I have a distinctive artistic style. I think it has to do with color and the way I apply it and use it. In my early days, it was about using curving lines and shapes, as seen to the left. Artistic style sounds rather complicated at this point.

And, in terms of vision, artistic vision, does an artist actually have one or does that evolve over time too? I don't know if I have a vision so much as a curiosity about certain subject matter or a yearning to experiment with different media to see what it will do.

So, I'm not sure I settled anything here. lol... the investigation continues.        

And What Do You Think?

What's your idea of artistic style? If you are an artist, do you have one? How did you develop it? If you are a collector, how important is it to you to collect an artist who has their own distinctive style?

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle)
The handsome, Sir Kitty. Meow.
About the author: Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle) is an artist and writer who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved assistant, Sir Kitty.

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